Monday, 2 October 2006

Cameron's Clause 4

I hate trite comparisons, for example the habit of putting "gate" after the name of every scandal, but in this case there really is no other way.

Cameron has chosen tax as his defining battleground; his equivalent of Tony Blair's Clause 4. He positively wants a huge row over tax cuts. He wants Tebbitt and all the others to attack him. There is no better way to demonstrate the level and extent of change.

But why has he chosen tax? I'd say that was simple really. Tax cuts are definably "old Tory" so their rejection is emblematic of the change he represents. Furthermore, in this new world tax cutting promises don't work at election time. 2001 and 2005 being proof should you need it. The true legacy of Thatcher is an electorate of feel-goods. They have their relative wealth, now they want as much as they can get for "free". For the Tories to capture the masses as Thatcher did, they must now have relevant policies for the "cake and eat it" generation. They don't want tax cuts, they want free health and education. Most of all they want mortgage interest to remain stable and they want house prices to march upwards unwaveringly.

A public scrap over taxes with his own party is the most effective way to underline economic trustworthiness in the public's mind and that is the most essential thing. He has started early and he intends to keep the issue simmering for as long as he can. He will lose a section on the right of the party, but he could do so much more to hang on to them. Immigration and Europe are two areas where he could balance the equation. I hope he does.

I would love tax cuts, but I want a Conservative Government more. I think he is reading the public profile correctly. On this issue I think he has got it right and I continue to support him.

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